UK to get its first women chief justice in 755 yrs. Kenya took 53 years. Kenya ni ujuaji tu

UK to have its first woman Lord Chief Justice

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

What you need to know:

  • Two candidates have been fronted for consideration to head the judiciary in England and Wales.
  • They are Dame Victoria Sharp, 67, a senior judge and the President of the King’s Bench Division, and Dame Sue Carr, 58, an Appeal Court judge.

The United Kingdom (UK) is about to have a woman Lord Chief Justice for the first time in its history.

Dame Victoria Sharp, 67, a senior judge and the President of the King’s Bench Division, and Dame Sue Carr, 58, an Appeal Court judge, are the final two candidates fronted for consideration to be the head the judiciary in England and Wales.

Unlike in Kenya where Chief Justice Martha Koome became the first female head of the Judiciary just 53 years after the first African man to occupy the seat, it has taken the United Kingdom 755 years to consider a woman for a similar position.

Experience

Both nominees have extensive experience in legal practice and as members of the UK judiciary.

Lady Justice Carr studied Law at Trinity College, Cambridge, before she was admitted to the bar in 1987. She worked as a barrister, specialising in general commercial law with an emphasis on professional liability and insurance.

Through her excellent work, she was appointed Queen’s Counsel (now King’s Counsel) in 2003 and went on to hold numerous leadership positions such as chairperson of the Professional Negligence Bar Association in 2007 and the Bar Standards Board Conduct Committee in 2008.

In 2011, she was appointed Complaints Commissioner to the International Criminal Court in the Hague before becoming Head of Chambers at Four New Square.

After two years, she joined the High Court Bench, Queen’s Bench Division (now King’s Bench Division) and was later nominated Judge of the Commercial Court and the Technology and Construction Court in 2014.

Dame Sue has also been a member of various regulatory bodies such as the Investigatory Powers Tribunal from 2014 to 2016 and Presider of the Midland Circuit, a position that she held from 2016 to 2020. From there, she was sworn in as a Lady Justice of the Court of Appeal.

Also read: More racial and gender diversity in UK’s government

According to British news outlet The Daily Telegraph, legal insiders consider Dame Sue to have an “outwardly confident personality” that would be suited for the “public-facing parts of the role and liaising with the Government and the Lord Chancellor”.

Meanwhile, the same outlet reports that the second nominee, Dame Victoria Sharp, is also considered a favourite because of her reputation for hard work, regularly putting in 14-hour days, and raising four children alongside her doctor husband. She is reported to have once gone into labour while in court.

Dame Victoria was called to the bar in 1979 after studying law at Bristol University. She practised as a recorder from 1998 to 2008 after which she was appointed as a deputy high court judge and in 2009 became a high court judge of the Queen’s Bench Division (now King’s Bench Division).

She was appointed as the vice-president of the Queen’s Bench Division (now King’s Bench Division) in January 2016, and made history in 2019 by becoming the first woman president of the King’s Bench Division, a position she currently holds.

100 male holders

Although there have been more than 100 male holders since the office of Lord Chief Justice was established in 1268, in a couple of days, with the King’s approval, Alex Chalk, the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, is expected to announce who between the two women will become United Kingdom’s Lord Chief Justice.

However, according to the Telegraph, the country’s constitutional law may have to be amended to accommodate the title ‘Lady Chief Justice’ as it is currently a solely male title in the form of ‘Lord’.

The next lord chief justice will have a full in-tray as she grapples with tackling court backlogs, which this month reached their highest level in UK history.

[email protected]